Rap’s always had a minor obsession with brands and brand names, which at the best of times gives it a deeper connection with pop culture. On the other hand, by tapping into cultural touchstones, rap has occasionally run afoul of the civil side of the law. From rappers being forced to change their names (Remy Ma, who once went by the more recognizable Remy Martin, which also sued 50 Cent over his competing cognac) to copyright infringement suits (Tyga and Lil Nas X were both recently sued over sneaker collaborations), rap’s propensity for name-checking has gotten more than one artist into trouble.
Now, the brands that associate with rappers are feeling those effects too. According to Reuters, the Rap Snacks potato chip brand is being sued by toy manufacturer Mattel over its new Nicki Minaj-themed flavor. Spinning the flavor’s name off from Nicki’s self-derived Barbie nickname, Barbie-Que” Honey Truffle — and its logo, which borrows the original logo of Mattel’s long-running, beloved doll line — Rap Snacks has drawn the ire of Mattel’s legal department, which filed suit last week, alleging unfair competition and false designation of origin, trademark dilution, and unfair competition violation.
Mattel argues that the logo’s use creates customer confusion and false association with the actual Barbie brand. The logo’s use wasn’t authorized and Rap Snacks “purposely” misled customers, allegedly refusing to “correct the misimpression it foisted on the public.” Nicki Minaj, who has long used the Barbie terminology and aesthetic, even calling her fans “Barbz” and herself “Harajuku Barbie” (oof), is said to have deferred to Mattel, obtaining at least tacit permission to continue using the moniker, even having her own doll made in 2011.
Mattel not only wants Rap Snacks to discontinue its “Barbie-Que” flavor but also wants it to cancel its trademarks for Barbie-Que and hand over all of the profits made from its sales. Rap Snacks, which also has flavors based on Cardi B, Lil Durk, Migos, and Moneybagg Yo, has not made a public statement as of press time.